Sierratoo
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Burying Potatoes

During the last week, the potato plants have shot up and are about a foot tall.
Is it too late to bury them up to their necks?
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rainbowgardener
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Nope, not too late... Just leave a few leaves at the top uncovered.
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Sierratoo
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Ok Thanks. I am just using peat moss cause it is lighter.
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jal_ut
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But why would you want to bury those nice leaves? Leaves are what manufacture the food that is stored in the tubers. The tubers form at the depth of the original set. All that is necessary is to add enough cover (two or three inches) to guarantee the developing tubers do not come into the sunlight as they swell. They turn green if this happens and get a bitter taste. You want to help those potatoes? Side dress them with some fertilizer.
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rainbowgardener
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I can't really argue with James, because he has grown WAY more potatoes than I have. But most other sources that you read talk about keeping on hilling up potatoes for awhile. And for me personally, I think it is important to keep burying them, because I am growing mine in containers, so they don't have any room to spread out horizontally, so I have to give them some vertical space.

and I always understood the reason for the hilling is this:

[img]https://potatoplantpress.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/potato-plant2.jpg[/img]

The new potatoes grow in the space between the seed potato you planted and the ground, so there needs to be some space there.
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Sierratoo
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rainbowgardener wrote:I can't really argue with James, because he has grown WAY more potatoes than I have. But most other sources that you read talk about keeping on hilling up potatoes for awhile. And for me personally, I think it is important to keep burying them, because I am growing mine in containers, so they don't have any room to spread out horizontally, so I have to give them some vertical space.

and I always understood the reason for the hilling is this:

[img]https://potatoplantpress.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/potato-plant2.jpg[/img]

The new potatoes grow in the space between the seed potato you planted and the ground, so there needs to be some space there.
I understood that the more or higher you build the potato box up, the more potatoes that will grow. Apparently as the main stalk is buried, it sends out roots / shoots and keeps growing spuds all the way up.
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rainbowgardener
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Yes, I do think that is true (up to a certain point) when you are growing them in a box or a container like I am. Maybe not true when growing them in the ground.
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luvthesnapper
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I hear you need an indeterminate variety of potato, as well. Something that will keep producing, as you keep hilling. I forget where I read that. I'm sure someone here knows more about it, as this year was my first year growing potatoes.

Sierratoo
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luvthesnapper wrote:I hear you need an indeterminate variety of potato, as well. Something that will keep producing, as you keep hilling. I forget where I read that. I'm sure someone here knows more about it, as this year was my first year growing potatoes.
Yes I have Red Pontiac.
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jal_ut
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I understood that the more or higher you build the potato box up, the more potatoes that will grow. Apparently as the main stalk is buried, it sends out roots / shoots and keeps growing spuds all the way up.
OK. Has anyone on this forum ever done that to see that it actually works? I am skeptical.

Even if it does, the fact remains that by burying leaves you lose the production of food that they would have produced. Food that goes into the tubers. The question comes up, whether you would get more weight even if you got more tubers. By burying the leaves you put the plant under stress. Now it has to devote energy into producing more leaves before it can produce excess to put in the tubers.

Run the experiment if you wish, but as for me hilling spuds three inches works very well.
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orgoveg
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This will only be my fourth season with potatoes and I don't have space for very many plants. That's not enough for me to decide whether "high hilling" makes more potatoes or not. However, this is what I've noticed so far.

The first season I piled those hills up as high as I could get them with available soil. Gravity and water kept settling the hills down to about 10 inches in height as I piled more on. After the tops had died off, I found the tubers way down near the base of the plant within a radius of about 10 inches from the plant.

The second season I did the same and had the same result.

The third season I didn't pile any more soil on after it settled. I probably ended up with about 4 or 5 inches of hill. I noticed a couple of tubers exposed on their top sides and I covered them back up. I didn't get any more or less tubers than before and they were at the same depth.

This year I'm piling as high as I can and I bought extra soil for the purpose. Maybe I'll have my decision after this but not many of them grew this time. I think I cut the seed potatoes up too small and many of the eyes didn't look productive.

Sierratoo
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jal_ut wrote:
I understood that the more or higher you build the potato box up, the more potatoes that will grow. Apparently as the main stalk is buried, it sends out roots / shoots and keeps growing spuds all the way up.
OK. Has anyone on this forum ever done that to see that it actually works? I am skeptical.

Even if it does, the fact remains that by burying leaves you lose the production of food that they would have produced. Food that goes into the tubers. The question comes up, whether you would get more weight even if you got more tubers. By burying the leaves you put the plant under stress. Now it has to devote energy into producing more leaves before it can produce excess to put in the tubers.

Run the experiment if you wish, but as for me hilling spuds three inches works very well.
Isnt that why people have grown taters in discarded vehicle tires? the higher the stalk is buried, the more babies it makes. Any way I purchased more peat moss and will be adding it - hopefully tomorrow - to the box I built. Will let u know of the results in September. We get a frost very early on ....
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Thinking out load here.

If continuous hilling produces more harvest in volume than trenching would do the same thing. As the potato grows, dig a trench away from the stem. Then gently lay the plant over and bury, leaving top exposed. As the plant puts on more height, lengthen the trench and gently lay it over again. No need for large volumes of hilling soil.

Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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I'm sure you are right, we just should probably sort out that we have two different conversations going on here, one about growing potatoes in the ground and one about growing them in a container/ box/ tire stack or whatever. I think they are probably quite different, as in the container there is no room to spread out horizontally.

The fact that they can stretch out vertically like that is what makes the container/ box growing possible and still get a reasonable harvest per plant.
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jal_ut
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In doing some research on this subject of growing potatoes in a tower or bin, it seems this is an ongoing topic on many forums. It also seems there are no conclusive answers.

Some ideas:

There may be determinate and indeterminate potatoes. The indeterminate varieties are the long season types and are best for bin growing. The determinate types are short season types and will likely only produce one rack of tubers. More study is definitely needed on this one.

Potato harvest may best be increased by good soil fertility and plenty of water. I have been growing potatoes for many years and can say from my own experience this is definitely true.

If you are growing in a tower of some sort, you may do better with a long season type of potato. Seed companies don't really classify potatoes as being determinate or indeterminate.

You may do better planting the potato 12 inches deep in the first place, rather than burying green stems and leaves later. It is questionable whether the green stem will put on a rack of tubers.

...

OK, I am out of ideas. Have fun growing potatoes, the most mis-understood garden plant.
Last edited by jal_ut on Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DoubleDogFarm
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Here are a couple links that may interest you. Maturity dates, growing guide and indeterminate / determinate. ( vining / compact )

https://www.coloradopotato.org/seed/varietyprofile.html
https://www.coloradopotato.org/seed/varieties.html

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Well at the end of the year I will be able to help some with this. Last year I buried my seed potatoes probably 6 inches and covered the trench with 6 inches of soil...so it ended up just being ground level. This year I went 12 inches deep, dropped the seed potatoes, and then covered with around 4 inches of soil. As they grew I kept adding soil to ground level. After reaching ground level (now 12 inches deep) I kept hilling probably another 6 inches or so up the plant.

I'm anxious to see how these compare to last years production. I will say I fed this years plants better too as last year I didn't know which fertilizers were for what. So this year my potatoes got more P and K than last year and I have the drip irrigation this year.

Finally the other day when I was out scratching around looking for new potatoes there weren't any close to the top of the ground. I did pull out a couple of baseball size potatoes but they were probably a good 6 inches below the soil which would have been in the hill around the plant since I have 12 inches of trench down there.
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towers do work

Hey folks I have grown in tires.....The tubers absolutely continue to produce potatoes higher up the stems as you continue to hill or build up the stack..... The highest stack was about 4-5 feet high and leaves less than 6 ft high. This was in one growing season in NE ohio(summit). We started on top of existing soil and mounded/boxed up from there.
BUT...the potatoes were all in the lower 2 feet of the box(by the way 2 feet of tates is alot of taters and they did grow big) and a few small ones in the third foot.
We did this in used tires, do not repeat the tire trick, as the skins were very thin and well not the best taste(memory is we used a russet type seed)
Try it, it works, but you have to water more.
Personally don't think its worth the water, time, n energy
But a fun experiment.
IMHO

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Cool info. I had the weirdest thing tonight. Checking out the garden and growing on the vine of one of my Yukon gold plants was what looked like a marble size green mater. Have no idea what it was.
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I don't bother with it. I have watched a hundred youtube videos where people tried this and they excitedly empty out their potato tower on camera, only to be disappointed by the measly 5 potatoes hidden inside 500 gallons of soil. lol To date, I have yet to see one end in any kind of markable success.

I can do that by just plunking a potato chunk in the ground and not touching it again until it dies. JMO
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GardenRN
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dtlove129 wrote:Cool info. I had the weirdest thing tonight. Checking out the garden and growing on the vine of one of my Yukon gold plants was what looked like a marble size green mater. Have no idea what it was.
That was a potato berry! Leave it to ripen and collect your "true potato seeds" from it at the end of the year. I have lots of flowers but haven't gotten one. I think the flowers are sterile.

Read up on the seeds. If you aren't interested, I'd be very interested in making some sort of trade for the berry after it ripens.
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dtlove129
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Garden I will look for another because of course I was looking at it and it fell off in my hand. Its not any good now is it? I know where it is if its good.
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A horsey friend of mine grew her potatoes in feedsacks. Here's what she said:

"I planted them in about 8 inches of compost, about an inch deep, then put a deep layer of straw down. I was worried they wouldn't find their way through the deep straw layer but they did just fine. I plan to just keep refilling with straw as I roll the bag up. Never tried it but I read they grow really well in straw. It's a fun experiment."

She also had some in the ground. I'll have to ask her how her feedsack ones went.

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dtlove129 wrote:Garden I will look for another because of course I was looking at it and it fell off in my hand. Its not any good now is it? I know where it is if its good.
I really don't know to tell you the truth, as I don't know how old/ young the berry was. If it were mine I'd process the seeds from it and find out next year regardless! But yeah, if you see more or wanna send that one it'd be awesome, we can work something out. Any idea what kind of potato it came off of?

you know what...PM me, I don't wanna hijack the thread...
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